Hormone Therapy: Study Says It Makes Breast Cancer More Likely - and Deadlier

Sex doesn't end at age 50 - or even age 60, 70. or 80. So why do some doctors assume that older patients have given up the game? <br><br>If you're sexually active and your doctor doesn't seem to understand, it's time to speak up - or find a new doctor. iStockphoto

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(CBS) Women who take hormone supplements to ease symptoms of menopause - night sweats and hot flashes, for example - might want to reconsider whether the benefits are worth the risk.

For eight years we've known that hormone replacement therapy can boost a woman's risk of heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, and blood clots.

Now a new study shows that in addition to being more likely to get cancer, women who take the popular hormone drug Prempro are more likely to have cancer that proves deadly.

The study, a follow-up on the Women's Health Initiative's ground-breaking 2002 study, showed that women who had taken Prempro were more likely (23.7 percent compared to 16.2 percent in a placebo group) to develop cancerous lymph nodes, which are associated with advanced breast cancer. So says the study's lead researcher, Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

The study was published in the October 20 issue of the "Journal of the American Medical Association."

The bottom line? Women shouldn't take hormone therapy lightly. In fact, they shouldn't take it at all unless they need it to function, Dr. JoAnn E. Manson of Harvard Medical School, one of the study's authors, told the New York Times.

At the same time, Manson said, women who have taken hormones should not worry unnecessarily, because data suggest that hormones are a problem mostly when used for a long period of time.

For Dr. John Lapook's take on the new study, watch this video:


  • Aina Hunter

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